5 steps on how to build your success

Some companies and managers are very good at feedback and have formal processes in place, including lots of metrics on your performance. Most, however, have the best of intentions but are usually lacking. No matter how good they are or are not - it is up to you to take responsibility to get the feedback needed to ensure you are on track and meeting expectations.

Step 1- Confirm Expectations:

The best way to set yourself up for success is to get those expectations up front.  Ask and get a clear picture of what you are expected to accomplish, what the output should look like, and by when. Also determine the resources or other people that your results are dependent on.  If you only get this verbally, follow up with an e-mail summarizing your conversation.

Step 2 - Things change:

Change is the only constant so check in regularly.  Confirm that the objectives set are still what is expected of you. Make sure to ask if any additional priorities have been added or are coming up. Most managers communicate these things but sometimes, when they are busy, updates get missed and you’re the one who wastes a week or two in the wrong direction - so take responsibility to check in. Use e-mail to follow up any discussions, changes or new agreements.

Step 3 – Ask for feedback:

Again busy managers may not realize how much time has passed or, more likely, will just assume you're on track.  If you have been left on your own make sure that you reach out for feedback.  Send a weekly e-mail update and include: where you are relative to goals, a sample of your work requesting direct feedback, or summarize your metrics and ask if they meet the mark.  Also ask directly if he/she is aware of any areas you could improve in.  Don’t wait for a formal review, it may be too late - be proactive. All managers appreciate employees who take responsibility for their success.

Step 4 – Taking in Feedback

Okay so you asked for feedback, but what if it is negative and your manager is not happy with your work? Well, thankfully you have asked early on and are being proactive. If you had not been proactive and your manager finally delivered negative feedback on his/her own terms, most likely he would be frustrated, targets would have been missed, and she would be under pressure. This puts you in a negative light.
When receiving feedback, your job is to listen (not defend). Ask clarifying questions and practice active listening.  Listen first to be heard later. Confirm what you will be changing and repeat this in an e-mail follow up.  If you have had challenges, make sure you present these in a constructive way (not in a victim or blaming manner). Constructive means to define the problem, identify the impact, and suggest potentials resolutions.

Step 5 – Ask for support

If you are not meeting targets or see that you are not progressing as needed, determine what additional training, coaching, or mentoring could be of value to you.  Depending on your environment, this may be easy to get and may just be a matter of asking for it. You can even ask your peers for extra help, if this is acceptable in your workplace. Some environments may be more competitive with a ‘sink or swim culture’, so make sure you present your request in a positive way that refers to the benefit. For example, “I am confident that I can meet my targets if I could shadow Jane to see how she handles X call that I am new at”, or “John is top in this area, it would be great if he could do a training on XYZ so we can all have his results” or “I would like to be faster at completing X, could you walk me through how you do it?”.

If you take responsibility for your success and:

  • clarify expectations,
  • provide updates and adapting,
  • ask for feedback
  • and proactively get the support you need,

you will be the type of employee managers really appreciate on their team. 

You will also be setting an example for your peers and helping to create a more positive, constructive work environment. Another advantage of doing the above is that you will be building a ‘grace zone’ so that, if and when you mess up as we all do, your manager will more likely see your mistake as just a hiccup in your good record and not the beginning of a write up or termination.

Best of success to you!


Leanne Abraham is the President and Senior advisor at Premierehire. Premierehire specializes in helping organizations build strong teams through effective recruiting, onboarding and retention strategies.  To read more on how to be successful on the job or how to attract, recruit and retain top performers please see our Blogs under the Blogs tab.

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